Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day
July 12th, 2019 by diane92345

I was cautiously hopeful that Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day would contain more than just how to prioritize your To Do list. Luckily, it has many more tips and tricks to manage your time and achieve your goals in life. Many that I have never heard of before.

The book briefly covers to do lists, prioritization, and the SMART goal-planning method so it is suitable for beginners. However, it goes further to focus on your long-term goals and using mindfulness to determine the time-sucks in your day. It also gives specific strategies to make your time more productive in specific situations including meetings, community projects, home cleaning, and meal preparation. The author also names apps, books, websites, and physical goods that may help you in your time management journey.

There really is something for everyone in Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day. I enjoyed it so much, and believe it is so useful, that I volunteered to talk about it in our bi-weekly staff meeting at work. Truly an excellent time management resource and I read a lot of them as an acknowledged To Do List Fanatic. 5 stars!

Thanks to Althea Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Dead Girl in 2A
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Jake is slowly losing his memories. Is it mental illness or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?

On a plane trip to Denver, he meets the Dead Girl in 2A and she seems familiar. The girl, Clara, says the same about Jake. It won’t matter much longer because Clara is going to Colorado to kill herself.

After losing Clara in the airport, Jake desperately tries to discover his connection to her. What he discovers is mind-blowing!

The Dead Girl in 2A is a thriller but its subject is sci-fi horror. A rogue medical experiment gone awry is a great topic for a thriller that hasn’t been used since Robin Cook’s books in the 1980s. The characters seem real and it is easy to empathize with them. This would make a great Netflix series along the lines of Stranger Things. Most thriller readers will enjoy it. However, if you have suicidal thoughts, you should avoid it as it glorifies suicide a bit. 4 stars!

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: ,

Apocalypse Confirmed
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

I challenged myself to guess how I would like three apocalyptic books prior to reading them. How did I do?

This four-day weekend I’m challenging my book selection skills by pre-rating three apocalyptic thrillers, reading them, and seeing if I was right in my initial assessment.

Here’s the rundown for those that didn’t read my initial post.

Religion and Nazis are key plot points in Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper. It is published by independent Black Thorn Books. Out July 4th.

The king of alternate historic fiction, Harry Turtledove, takes on the End of Days in Alpha and Omega. Published by science fiction and fantasy publisher, Del Rey Books, this book promises dirty bombs, other signs of the apocalypse, and a startling discovery during a dig under the Temple Mount. Out July 2nd.

Finally, I have Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig released by Bethany House, a Christian publisher. A centuries old manuscript carries the key to stop the End Time scourges that are erupting worldwide as foretold in the Bible. Also, out July 2nd.

Here is my initial scoring:

  1. Alpha and Omega—it promises the twisty plot and surprising conclusion that I enjoy.
  2. Sign of the Cross—it sounds like The DaVinci Code in the end times, which is a good thing. I loved that book!
  3. Storm Rising—I read a review on NetGalley saying it was a military thriller, which is not my favorite, for sure. However, it has the highest rating on NetGalley of the three books (5 out of 5 stars average with 31 reviews) so my decision to put it last may be completely misguided.

Here is what I discovered:

  1. Alpha and Omega—I absolutely loved this book and gave it 5 stars! See my full review here.
  2. Storm Rising-I like this book more than the book below and gave it 3.5 stars. I think that military thriller lovers would adore this book. But me, eh. Here is the full review.
  3. Sign of the Cross—An okay read but there was not much original content here. It suffered by comparison with The DaVinci Code. The protagonist is even a Harvard professor (talk about sticking close to the “source: material). See what I really thought here.

Overall, not too bad. I’ll give myself 3 stars because I flipped the last two books.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Best Lies
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

“The Best Lies are at least half true, she said, like it’s just a matter of mixing paint, two different colors swirling together until no one can tell where the truth ends and the lie begins, a new color emerging.”

Remy is seventeen and has issues. Her family is constantly fighting with divorce looking increasingly likely. Worse, her best friend Elise, always a prankster, has shot and killed Remy’s boyfriend, Jack. Elise claims it was an accident, but was it?

Best Lies is a good young adult thriller about families, friendships, and love. It has the usual young adult over-the-top’ness. Despite the DRAMA of living at seventeen depicted here, Remy, Elise, and Jack always seemed like real with real motives behind their actions. The only negative was the excessive smoking done by the two girls, which may send the wrong message to teen readers. Still a solid 3 star read!

Thanks to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

Storm Rising
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

There is a Storm Rising in the Middle East that may indicate the End Times have arrived.

Iskra, aka Viorica, is a trained assassin tasked with retrieving an ancient text called the Book of Wars in Israel. So is ex-SEAL Leif and his team provided by the US government. Both need to work together to seize it from Rutger Hermanns, a ruthless German businessman and part-time archaeologist, who has snatched it from Israeli scientists.

The Book of Wars has some lethal secrets best kept away from foreign powers. The book is mentioned in the Bible as being prophetic by sharing information about future wars.

Storm Rising is a typical military thriller. It has an American team of misfits from various nations and religions. There is the usual romance, mysterious back stories, and good-natured joshing of fellow team members. The initial opposition is by a lone assassin, who must get the book to save her life after one too many screw-ups in the past. However, it soon becomes apparent that Leif may have to team with Iskra to prevent the German villain from using the book for his nefarious plan.

Storm Rising is about the fight between Christians and Muslims leading into Armageddon. Muslims are clearly the enemy. Jews aren’t even mentioned. Therefore, this book is recommended only for secular and Christian readers.

The plot was good but there is not much originality here. The characters are the best part. You definitely want the heroes to win. Plus the combat scenes were intense and set the reader right in the middle of the fight. Unfortunately, there are an overwhelming number of characters plus a cliffhanger ending, which I detest. It still earns 3.5 stars! It will be even higher if you are a fan of military or action thrillers.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Children, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

English Grammar
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Filled with common writing issues, English Grammar is a fun (yes, actually fun!) way to correct your grammar, punctuation, and word use.

Quick! What is the easiest way to determine whether to use “further” or “farther” and “affect” or “effect”? If you said for the first pair, farther refers to distance, you would be correct! For the second choice, if you said affect is a verb and effect is a noun, you would match what I thought before reading this book. But you would be wrong! Both can be used as nouns or verbs. It depends on usage. Affect is a noun when writing about the flat affect of someone’s face. Effect is a verb when you mean to make happen. You can effect change in your grammar if you read this book. If you wonder how I could be writing a review of a grammar book and start a sentence with “But”, you need to read the author’s section on the changing face of English grammar. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is fully acceptable everywhere but in an English composition class. Just a side note on my side note, does anyone else hear the Conjunction Junction song in their head every time they read or hear the word “conjunction”? They really should bring back the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.

The author uses clear explanations and examples to explain grammar and punctuation rules. There is even a quiz afterwards for the more complex ideas. There is also a section about the differences between English (from England) and American English. For example, theatre is the English (from England) spelling but theater is the American English spelling. However, just to confuse everyone, Americans use the British spelling when trying to sound refined. Also, Shakespeare used the American spelling. English grammar differences are nothing but inconsistent. Thanks Noah Webster, who the author blames for trying to un-French the English language in An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.

If you read through my review all the way to this paragraph, you will probably enjoy English Grammar (the book—not necessarily the subject). It is an excellent reference that is short and to the point. And it entertains while it is teaching you something most writers, reviewers, and basically humans, need to use daily. 4 stars!

Thanks to Zephyros Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Kindle Unlimited, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Alpha and Omega
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Alpha and Omega is the most thought-provoking thriller I’ve read this year.

A dirty bomb carried by a suicide bomber destroys the Tel Aviv bus station in Israel. An American talk show personality is on site and gets the aftermath on tape. Israelis are understandably upset. They decide to flout the long standing agreement with the Muslims by beginning an archeological dig under the Temple Mount. What they find will stun the world. What happens later will affirm God’s power over mankind. But which religion is the “correct” one?

Alpha and Omega is an awesome book. It ties Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious theory together with Middle Eastern politics and history. Readers are guaranteed to learn something new by reading this book. However, it can also be read strictly as a thriller. Will the Muslims or Jewish people win the battle over the Temple Mount? There are two love stories here too.

I can’t recommend Alpha and Omega highly enough. I loved it! Even if you are staunchly religious, this book will treat your views with respect. I liked it much better than the Left Behind series. 5 stars!

Thanks to Del Rey Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Christian, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Succeed with Social Media
July 4th, 2019 by diane92345

If you have a product or service that you wish to sell, you must know how to Succeed with Social Media.

Here are some tips from the book:

  1. Use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time not selling your product but instead provide information about your product’s subject area. The example in the book was providing an overview of the artist, Matisse, when your product was your own artwork. The remaining 20% can be used for selling your own items.
  2. Use free programs like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to see all your social media in one dashboard. This also allows you to see where your customers are really coming from and what their demographics are.

The book clearly focuses on Facebook as the main platform and videos as the method to become viral.  While that is true, that may not be your goal. You might just want to sell your widgets without spending a lot of time trying to become viral. The author understands that thought and even states that the reader should spend some time determining their supply before trying to pump up demand. You don’t want to have the Shark Tank effect of massive advertising that turns customers away when the items quickly sell out.

There is an excellent section near the end focusing on how to know your customer and how much it costs to acquire a new one. This information is useful when making pricing decisions for your product since that cost must be factored in. It is also needed to decide which social media platform is best if you decide to buy ads.

This is definitely a beginner-level book, which might be okay if that is where you are now. At the end, the author recommends books for further reading that go into individual aspects more deeply. He follows his own 80/20 rule and only mentions one book by him out of fourteen. For a short overview of how social media works and how to make it work for you, Succeed with Social Media is a good choice. 3 stars!

Thanks to Allworth and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,

Pretty Revenge
July 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Jordana is a celebrity wedding planner being interviewed on a morning news show. She is also the person who ruined Kerrie’s life eighteen years ago. Kerrie is unemployed and in a mundane relationship when she decides to enact her Pretty Revenge by applying to be Jordana’s assistant.

It was fun to read the back and forth gamesmanship between the two leads. However, the ending was predictable. Pretty Revenge was marketed as a thriller but reads more like chick-lit without the humor or much romance. Still the battling of the two women makes for some light summer entertainment. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Fiction Tagged with: ,

We Went to the Woods
July 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Five millennials try to live off the grid with horrible results in We Went to the Woods.

Mack has a secret that caused her to be unemployed and shunned by the world. When she meets Louisa at a high society fundraising party as a bartender, she meets Louisa’s friends, Chloe, Beau, and Jack. She also buys into Louisa’s plan for the group to move to upstate New York and live off the land. Unfortunately, the romantic picture by Thoreau doesn’t work as they expected. Sexual tensions and rivalries, lack of farming/survival skills, and headstrong roommates cause the drama here.

I enjoyed the build-up to the group’s arrival at the Homestead. However, I really couldn’t get past three things. First, I didn’t like or care what happened to any of the characters. Second, you knew from the beginning something “horrible” was going to happen because of heavy foreshadowing rather than building up suspense to naturally lead the reader to that knowledge. Finally, it seemed full of stereotypical rich spoiled millennials. Couldn’t they have put one person who wasn’t such a dick in the story? Someone to root for? I didn’t see anyone like that throughout this novel. If it bothers me, a baby boomer, I could see it being perceived even more negatively by real millennials.

While I didn’t enjoy We Went to the Woods as a thriller because it didn’t have the correct pacing, it may be acceptable to some readers as literary fiction. The discussions of the history of communes and living off the land was interesting. However, I think it is a difficult read if you need to like or identify with a novel’s characters. Overall, a 3 star read for me.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

High Heaven
July 1st, 2019 by diane92345

David is having a bad day. First, he confesses his love to a co-worker. Her response is that she is engaged to the very co-worker that encouraged him to express his love. Second, he is crushed by a falling piano. High Heaven is the story of how even heaven disappoints David on this horrible day.

Initially, David is surprised and relieved to be let into heaven by Saint Peter. However, he then sees his “mansion” that looks more like a jail cell and smells strongly of ammonia. The only food on offer is generic cheese crackers and feathers are floating everywhere. When David complains, constantly, he is ostracized by the other residents.

High Heaven is a good idea that needs fleshing out. There is a need to enlarge the characterizations and explain the why behind some of the characters’ decisions. Unfortunately, this is the entire series’ run so I will never find the answers I seek. Therefore, this book gets only 3 stars.

Thanks to Ahoy Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: